2012 Pairsine Challenge: The ultimate food and wine throwdown

Categories: Booze

Kendra Anderson
Stunningly simple yet complex: roasted quince and parsnip soup topped with a crispy kale chip.
Who took home top prize? Lon Symensma of ChoLon, a previous Pairsine champ, was crowned Best Overall Chef for his masterfully silken rendition of fall: a rich, decadent-tasting roasted parsnip and quince soup that was so satisfyingly hearty, we could have sworn there was meat involved. Topped with a cleverly crisped kale chip, the explosion of umami flavors lined up unexpectedly well with its assigned wine partner, the spicy, jammy Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 ($19). Symensma's second food and wine mash -up was just as stunning as the first: A luxurious spoonful of ginger-scented salmon tartare got along like a house on fire with the tropical, citrus-kissed Cameron Hughes Lot 346 Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($11).

Most Creative Chef Tom Coohill, Chef Dave Harker of Meritage (Honorable Mention) and Best Overall Chef Lon Symensma.

Kendra Anderson
Coohills' pistachio pesto-crusted sea scallop = perfection.
Most Creative Chef honors went to a relative newcomer on the Denver restaurant block: Tom Coohill, chef and owner of his namesake LoDo restaurant, Coohills. Coohill blew us away with two perfectly executed dishes. The first was a pistachio pesto-crusted jumbo diver scallop, accented by a precision-cut grapefruit suprème; the accompanying wine selection rocked, too -- the zesty

We swooned for Coohill's follow-up dish -- a kind of sous vide pheasant roulade, stuffed with black truffle mousse and resting atop a butternut squash and parsnip purée and drizzled with a berry gastrique. The key component on the plate that brought the wine pairing home was precisely that gastrique, which harmonized beautifully with the rich, extracted berry and spicy oak flavors present in the Peju Province Merlot 2009 ($35).

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#Pairsine Thanks for "getting" this event! There are lot's of chef competitions, ours is one of the only that tests chefs ability of pairing foods with wine. Cheers!

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